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Monday, January 10, 2011

The original motivational speaker: Mom

I think I was exceptionally lucky to be born to parents who were both educators.  They automatically taught my brother and I that we can do anything.  They programmed us to try new things, to try again if we messed up, to analyze failure but not to dwell on it.  They always believed in us, and so, we did too.  And like most kids, what I believed to be true about myself, I assumed was true for everyone else.

When I listen to motivational tapes and read success books now, much of it hinges on similar principles.  Beliefs have in impact on
our choices, decisions and emotions.  Our expectations of success allow us to start a new project or set a new goal, imagining that it will work out for the best.  Don't let me go off on a motivational tangent here... I think you get the idea.

When we teach, our belief structure bleeds into the classroom.  You may have heard of the Pygmalion Effect, where teacher expectations have a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy impact on students. (Do a Google search on: Robert Rosenthal, or Pygmalion Effect for more info, lots of research there.)  When we make a judgement about someone's ability, it affects how we teach them, for better or for worse.  

I think we have a responsibility to keep high expectations for our students.  This serves two purposes.  First, it will help us teach them as if they are capable of great things.  Second, it will preserve the standards of our style and technique.  If we believe they can be excellent, we will make excellent class plans, and we will not settle for anything less than progress toward that excellence.  We will say encouraging things to our students and they will be willing to try again when they make a mistake.  

I just can't find a downside to believing that people can be excellent martial artists with proper guidance and training.  Besides, my Mom said, "You can do anything if you put your mind to it," and she is always right.

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